It is difficult to get people to agree on the parameters of what we would define as "sexual health." Often it seems to go along the lines of whatever the person defining the concept is comfortable with themselves. This is even true in professional mental health circles where lots of dialogue and debate remain as to how we will classify the terms "dysfunction," "disorder" and in essence "deviant." In the process people often get labeled, diagnosed, treated, and mistreated in ways that carry more moral subjectivity than clinical soundness. I know this because I went 15 years as a well-trained mental health professional before I dove into the world of AASECT sex therapy certification where I had to face uncomfortable biases and values I realized I was imposing on my clients. Much responsibility comes in the voice of "expertise," especially in the already taboo and controversial world of sexuality.
It is positive, then, to see world health organizations and associations coming together in unified, evidence-based, community-positive ways to start paving the way for health centered foundations that deal in sexual health and sexual rights. One example is the World Association for Sexual Health and their Declaration of Sexual Rights. Another influencer has been Doug Braun- Harvey's work with Michael Vigorito that is found in Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Rethinking Sex Addiction, where they coin the 6 Principles (or ingredients) of Sexual Health. Principles that all sexologists would largely be in agreement on.
They are as follow:
Are all partners in consensual agreement of the sexual interactions that are taking place in any given situation? And I would add the term "enthusiastic" agreement. This principle allows for consent to shift as an experience proceeds, with any partner being able to withdraw consent at any time during a sexual encounter. It also implies that wearing someone down until they consent is not what we are talking about. Any type of criminal behavior (including sexual acts between adults and supposed consenting minors) automatically disqualifies the concept of consent.
2. Non Exploitation
Are there power plays being used to coerce, guilt-trip, or manipulate sexual interactions? Whenever one person is using financial threats, bribes, "silent treatment/pouting," coercion,